2011 NFL Draft: Could the Carolina Panthers Pick Yet Another Rookie Quarterback?

Lake CruiseAnalyst IApril 16, 2011

December 23, 2010: Jimmy Clausen cals for timeout in Pittsburgh.  He was drafted by the Panthers as a rookie last year.
December 23, 2010: Jimmy Clausen cals for timeout in Pittsburgh. He was drafted by the Panthers as a rookie last year.Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Several mock drafters—especially on NFL.com—have the Carolina Panthers inked in for drafting Cam Newton.  It made me wonder what these NFL insiders know.

They have access to NFL types and have probably heard something the rest of us haven’t.  I’m still wary of this prediction, though, for a few obvious reasons.

One reason I can’t take their seriously is because Carolina already has a second round quarterback (Jimmy Clausen).  He was the No. 48 pick, but Clausen could be on his way out.

Those are the rumors running around the NFL’s grapevine.  This time of year—like during the start of the fantasy football season—it’s better not to trust what NFL coaches and general managers say.

Outright lying to cover the true intentions of the draft room is what it’s all about.  So when the Carolina Panthers are rumored to take Cam Newton first, on the surface, I can’t believe them.  It’s too early for them to give up on their young quarterback. 

In a report posted by Michael David Smith on March 25 at NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk site, Panther's general manager Marty Hurney is said to be a huge Clausen supporter. http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/03/25/marty-hurney-thinks-judments-of-jimmy-clausen-have-been-unfair/

“You look at the history of rookie quarterbacks, and it’s really unfair to expect a quarterback to go in and have a lot of success as a rookie,”  Hurney said, according to Smith.

Clausen was considered a prototypical NFL quarterback and the most ready of all of the quarterbacks in the 2010 draft class.  As a pro, though, Clausen struggled mightily in his rookie season.

Starting 10 games, he ended up with a pathetic 58.4 passer rating.  In the 2008-9 season, rookie quarterback Matt Ryan’s rating was 87.7 in 16 games for the Atlanta Falcons.

Seeing this comparison by the numbers lends credibility to NFL.com’s mock draft crew.  Cam Newton could very well get picked by the Panthers, if you ask me. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter predicted Sam Bradford would be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, and he was correct.  This year, he’s predicting it will be Cam Newton.  Starring for the Rams last season, Bradford broke out comparisons to Peyton Manning.

On ESPN.com Insider, Schefter said he’s hearing Newton is the player to beat for the No. 1 pick. 

New head coach Ron Rivera is a guru on the defensive side of the ball.  I’m sure he’d like nothing more than to nab an anchor for his defense—one who could be around for the next 10 years.

Newton’s teammate, Nick Fairley, is a likely candidate even though his draft stock is falling and another defensive lineman—Marcell Dareus—has surpassed him on several mock draft boards.

I don’t speak Latin, or pig Latin, but Marcellus means “Young Warrior,” and Dareus (Darius) mean “Wealthy.”  As the No. 1 defensive lineman in the draft—according to NFL.com and NBC Sports ProFootballTalk—Dareus will be wealthy all right.

Whether or not he’ll be young warrioring for the Carolina Panthers or the Denver Broncos (they have the No. 2 pick in the draft) remains to be seen.  As an outsider, I can’t see Cam Newton in Carolina.  I believe Clausen will be given a chance.

Sure Newton is bigger, stronger, faster and has a better touch and engaging smile, but what does that mean?  Clausen is the younger brother of two Tennessee Volunteers quarterbacks—Casey and Rick.

Jimmy has been training to be a quarterback since eight grade—initially under famed quarterbacks coach Steve Clarkson.  A tutor of Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Leinert, J.P. Losman, Gino Torretta, Matt Barkley and others, Clarkson is considered “the man.”

He played for Jack Elway—John’s father—at San Jose State University but was undrafted in 1983.  He managed to make the Broncos roster for one season and the Saskatchewan Roughriders for two, according to his bio.

Of Clarkson’s students, only Roethlisberger has panned out as a viable NFL quarterback so far.

When he was a junior in high school, an SI.com article called Clausen “The Kid with the Golden Arm” and a “once-in-a-generation talent as a passer.” 

Clausen went on to start for NFL offensive coordinating guru Charley Weiss at the University of Notre Dame.  Weiss was the head coach at Notre Dame, but has since joined the Kansas City Chiefs and the Florida Gators.


In an ironic twist, Newton was a Gators quarterback on the depth chart behind Tim Tebow.  Newton transferred to Blinn Junior College and later to Auburn University where he won the Heisman Trophy in his only Division I season as a starting quarterback.

Now Newton is set to be marcellus dariusing in the NFL.


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